Press "Enter" to skip to content

HOOSER: Civic engagement is essential for a democracy

The state House Finance Committee has scheduled Senate Bill 1543 for a hearing on Wednesday, April 5 at 2 p.m.

If passed into law, SB1543 would establish a comprehensive system of public financing for all candidates seeking election to state and county public offices.

This is one of those bills that’s truly important and represents positive, bold, systemic change. Some call publicly funded elections “The reform that makes all other reforms possible.”

SB1543 is a top priority of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, is strongly supported by Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and many other community leaders working to reduce the influence of big money on Hawai‘i elections.

The states of Maine and Connecticut have successfully implemented similar public funding systems with positive results that include increased voter turnout, greater electoral competition, more women candidates, and in general more diversity.

SB1543 has already passed through the entire state Senate, and the House Judiciary Committee. It just needs to pass through the House Finance Committee, and then the final joint House/Senate Conference Committee. It’s an arduous process, but this very important measure is almost there. And it needs your help.

If you believe corporate and special interest money should stay out of politics, your testimony in support via the Capitol website at is important. Also important, and perhaps more so because of the late notice, is a telephone call or email today to all three Kaua‘i representatives.

The first and most important person to contact is Rep. Dee Morikawa, 808-586-6280,

Morikawa holds a key position as House majority floor leader, and she is a member of the House Finance Committee.

Rep. Nadine Nakamura, 808-586-8435,, also holds an important position of House majority leader, and though she will not cast a vote at the Finance Committee hearing, her voice is a strong and influential one.

Newly appointed Rep. Luke Evslin, 808-586-6270,, while not on the Finance Committee nor serving in an official leadership position, should also be contacted, as his voice is important as well, and should HB1543 pass today he will be called upon to vote for it on the House floor in the very near future.

I encourage you to keep your message simple, courteous and professional: “Please support and vote for SB 1543.”

Can your phone call or email actually make a difference? If you make the call today, Wednesday, April 5, before 2 p.m. the answer is an unequivocal yes!

Even if your call or email arrives after the hearing has concluded, it’s important to let our representatives know we are paying attention and that you support publicly funded elections.

If passed into law, SB1543 will create a more even playing field for candidates and refocus elections back to the needs of the people and not just the needs of those who donate the most.

Please, take ownership of your local government, engage your civic duty, make the three calls and send those three emails today.

Trust me. You’ll feel good after taking this action.

And in case you forgot who represents you and your district: Rep. Nadine Nakamura (District 15), Rep. Luke Evslin (District 16), and Rep. Dee Morikawa (District 17).


Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.
Source: The Garden Island

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply